As China’s economy slows, businesses are starting to feel the pinch—and the pain is being passed down to workers. But when 180 employees of a ceramics company in Shanghai held a strike and protest over compensation outside company headquarters on Aug. 2, police responded with pepper spray and other heavy handed tactics, according to witnesses.
Over 10 police vehicles arrived at the Shanghai CIMIC Architectural Ceramics Co., Ltd. Building, and with them 300-400 police and riot police who cordoned off the area, according to witnesses. The atmosphere was tense.
Photographs of the stand-off uploaded to Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, show police wearing helmets and holding shields while others arrested employees outside the headquarters. Another video shows hundreds of riot police running down a road, apparently to the site of the protest at the company headquarters. One person made a sign saying “Compatriots are bleeding, the ‘black leopards’ beat employees.” The referenced appeared to be to riot police clad in black.
When a conflict broke out between the two sides, police were quick to hit the workers with pepper-spray and rough up the employees. Four or five employees were apprehended and pressed on the ground each by four or five police officers. An onlooker yelled: “How could the authorities treat innocent people like this and beat them?” An unconfirmed account said that during the melee one of the worker’s legs was broken.
A resident, Mr. Gu, told The Epoch Times that with several of the strike leaders being arrested and potentially charged with assaulting police, other employees were too scared to speak out.
The company repeatedly hung up on telephone calls by a reporter attempting to find out about the strike. As soon as the word “strike” was mentioned each time, the call was terminated.
The striking employees were negotiating a labor settlement amidst the layoffs. They were unimpressed with the offer from the company.
Shanghai CIMIC Building Ceramics is a joint venture with a UK company established in June 1993. It is one of the largest ceramic producers and exporters in China, with a product line of ceramic and porcelain tiles, including polished and glazed tiles.
According to First Financial Daily, a state-run financial news website, CIMIC’s tile business has been slow they began mass layoffs in late June. Employees have been blocking factory entrances in protest.
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